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Postmodern Village
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The Mainly Annual EastWesterly Review/Postmodern Village Conference 2002

A Report on the 9th Annual EastWesterly Review/Postmodern Village Conference
by E.W. Wilder

Ashplant Dignam"Little Baby Tuckoo in Dreamland: Marketing Literature in the Age of Disney"
by Ashplant Dignam

They've done it to The Hunchback of Notre Dame; they've done it to ancient mythology - they've done it to history, too: John Smith will never be the same. What's next for Disney? High Art, argues Dignam. We especially liked the "trailer" for Dignam's projected Disney version of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Who knew Stephen Dedalus so resembled a cartoon bunny? We'd like not to think that his prediction about Faulkner will come to pass - that Benjy is unintelligible because he's really a bright orange turtle - but we think we know better.

Apuh Bear"Hears Like White Elephants: The Problem of Audiology in Ernest Hemingway"
by Apuh Bear and Christopher K. Robbing

Explores the problematic of what could or could not actually be heard in the dialogue-driven plots of Ernest Hemingway. A demonstration was given on a realistically reconstructed train platform recreating the famous setting of "Hills Like White Elephants." An excerpt of the transcript follows:

Christopher K. Robbing     "It's pretty hot," the man said.
   (Rumble of train leaving station.)
   "What?" "I said, 'IT'S PRETTY HOT!'"
   "Yes," said the girl, "I am. That's what got us into this mess in the first place!"

After this presentation, one could more easily accept the author's thesis that Hemingway was an author, primarily, of science fiction. See also "The Yelled 'Oh!' Wallpaper" by the same authors.

Oman Omanadanna"Oops, I Dig It Again: the Direct Line of Hipness from Dobie Gillis to Britney Spears"
by Oman Omanadanna

What's in? We rethought that after Omanandanna's presentation. Citing such often overlooked factors as physiometric measurements and stoicheiometry, the author demonstrated that hipness is less an issue of popularity or anti-squareness as it is a physical property easily determinable by modern measuring techniques. "Oops, I Dig It" ends with the disturbing possibility that hipness is genetic, thus the spectre of genetic engineering in order to create a universally hip society. Science fact is more scary than science fiction yet again.

D. Wayne Leibniz"Shoop Dreams: Doo-Wop as a Vehicle for Class Transcendence"
by D. Wayne Leibniz

Aside from the wingtips and the ducktails, what most impressed us about this presentation was the cool stage that raised the participants up through the different social classes. It was "Battle of the Bands" meets Battleship Potempkin except all were winners of vintage 45s. Wayne Newton's telling of his heart-wrenching journey from confused child star to confused Las Vegas superstar had us all in tears.

Peter N. Pauls"The Cruciful: Martyrdom Among the Reds"
by Peter N. Pauls

Was Jesus a red? Tom Joad? A thought-provoking portrait of Ronald Reagan, the Red Scare, Arthur Miller, and the Born Again. Were the total-immersion baptisms part of the presentation or back-door proselytizing?

Sir Morris Bullocks"El Cid and Nancy: Punk as Tragic Romance in a Pre-Post-Modern Idiom"
by Sir Morris Bullocks

We got the first part where the paper was presented, but the last part where the author brought out David Byrne and Laurie Anderson and had them make out on stage disturbed us in an exciting kind of way. We can't wait for the sequel: "The Clash of the Titans: Post-Punk Protest Song as Ancient Mythology."

M. Farley"Cillaxin' Jackson, Anglo-Saxon? Black Stereotypes as the Young, White Male"
by M. Farley

From Vanilla Ice to Eminem to the author's friend who, while working at the Bionic Burger would explain his continual lateness with "Man, I got beat down by the cops!" this paper represents an attempt to sort through representations of the white man as the black man and what that says about black stereotypes. From Al Jolson to Al Sharpton (or as the author put it "Seriously, we don't want him to be black"), "Chillaxin" questions the common accusation by African Americans that "You ain't black!" After this presentation, we wondered if perhaps we all are. And you thought drag queens were hard to figure out.

Kit Friskin"The Sensuous Vermin: Amorous Rodents in Charles Dickens, or Something Like Dat, Yo"
by Kit Friskin

We're always interested in a new take on the classics, and this bit of New Historicism took us for a wilde ryde. The idea that the sexual frequency and inventiveness of Rodentia was a key to comprehending Dickens had been suggested by Stephan Gruenblatt in 1982, but Friskin really follows up, detailing hidden references to small mammal breeding in even the most obscure of the great writer's letters. But the slides of early (and rejected) illustrations for the Dickens classic Bleak House portraying mice in leather halters and carrying whips really made us believers.

R. Russ Ruffles"Fun: The Haves and Have Nots: Ploids, Prozac and the Commodification of Emotion"
by R. Russ Ruffles

Billing themselves as "[t]he official currency of fun," Ploids have exploided on the pre-teen scene with mass-marketed consumer tie ins with Frito-Lay, Pepsi, and, though they fail to advertise it, the Russian mafia. What can you win with Ploids? Nobody knows, but Ruffles is sure of one thing: it further commodifies the notion of happiness by implying to the quite young and impressionable that, indeed, it can be bought and sold. It's about time, says Ruffles, since their parents had long been convinced of this by the pharmaceutical industry, as they purchase Prozac like peppermint candy. This leaves us with only one question: What can you win with Prozac?

Charlotte Perkins Gilbert and Mary Wollstonecraft Gubar"The Rockinghorse Wiener: Dada, D.H. Lawrence and the Phallus as Modern Medium"
by Charlotte Perkins Gilbert and Mary Wollstonecraft Gubar

The nexus of the equine and prognostication has never been so patriarchally problematic as when these two wymyn discuss the phallus. Witches would be so less powerful without their allure, and the capture of what's in men's pants provides a certain exercise of mojosity that projects and perpetuates female power. We felt helpless, but what a compelling spell to be under! We predict great things for these two, black pointy hats and all.

Kermit T. Fozz"A Vindication of the Rights of Muppets, or How Everything Has Turned to SHIT Since Jim Henson Died"
by Kermit T. Fozz

Invective or insight into the subtle relationship between fan and pop-culture icon? We decided it was indeterminate, but what we can say is that Fozz's plan for the liberation and eventual acceptance of Muppets as people is a compelling one. Signatures for his petition to get a vote on the upcoming Muppet Act of Liberation, Freedom, Organization, Reform, and Modernization (MALFORM) were many and pressed hard into the paper. The number of conferees sporting "Up with Muppets!" and "Free the Frog!" t-shirts afterward was considerable considering the steep ($21.50!) asking price.

A. Sian Ganglord"The Phat and the Furriest: Youth Culture, Hormone-Laden Beef and Custom Cars in La-La Land"
by A. Sian Ganglord

As the import-car modification scene becomes hotter on the West Coast and threatens to spill neon-green Acuras with massive rear wings onto the streets of middle-America, Ganglord sees a second-generation Asian-American population motivated right out of a healthy diet and exercise. As traditional fish and rice based diets give way to burgers and fries, and a more car-intensive lifestyle takes over from walking or bike-riding, the Asian-American body itself is being modified by hormone-treated beef. No longer will our stereotype of a nearly hairless Asian hold true, says the author, "The po-mo Chinaman is as hirsute as any Italian." Cyborg, meet Cyburger . . . .

Fred Furious"Hard News, or It's Not Really News Until Somebody Dies, Dan, or Why Dan Rather Can't Bring CBS Back to Credibility After Survivor Coverage"
by Fred Furious

Buried within the thesis that simply calling it hard news, as Rather has taken to doing on his CBS news show, does not make it so, is the more disturbing notion that perhaps, in fact, language does not create reality. If it doesn't, the foundations of contemporary critical theory begin to crumble pretty quickly - and what does one do with the bones of post-feminism, much less the tattered remains of Marshall McLuhan? Ameliorating the chill a bit was the warm-fuzzy we all got from watching Furious's tape of Rather bloopers and gaffes. Rather hilarious, despite the serious repercussions.

Varney P. Worrell"The Importance of Reviving Ernest, Know What I Mean, Vern?"
by Varney P. Worrell

The role of cultural foil is not one that should be taken as lightly as perhaps we have in the past. Or so says Worrell, whose five-year journey from Appalachia to Oklahoma in search of the meaning of Ernest (no relation) fulfilled a life-long dream. "I came to know Ernest as the needed curative to the social pork," he writes, "not the salt of the earth, but the salt of the ham." We couldn't agree more, if, that is, we knew what he was talking about.

Tori Paglia-Gore greets a local Nebraskan and his caretaker."Head Like a Whore: Post-Feminist Reinterpretations of the Body, or How NIN Stole My Soul"
by Tori Paglia-Gore

"Closer," we all got to this honest yet abrasive "hexorcize" in re-visioning of gender-role. Just when we thought it was safe for the sexes, Paglia-Gore shows BD/SM as the final frontier. If you're not here, she seems to be saying, you're not truly liberated. "Freedom in Chains" is an interesting concept, but we're not sure how we'd hide the scars at work.

Habib Dimmes-Dal"The Scarlet Burka"
by Habib Dimmes-Dal

Recent Neo-Colonial scholarship by Dimmes-Dal and others has unearthed in an Egyptian customs house a much abbreviated Arab retelling of Hawthorne's famous novel in which, instead of the relatively innocuous Puritan punishment, Hester Prynne's counterpart is summarily stoned to death in two pages of text. An important development, to be sure. We can't wait for the Sparknotes version.

Frank N. Berry"The Maypo of Merrymount: Images of Innocence from Hawthorne to Honey-Nut Cheerios"
by Frank N. Berry

The smiling child has always been a great way to sell products, but he too is fallen, Berry reminds us, showing the darker tones of marketers' attempts to whitewash childhood for the sake of cereal. Hawthorne, of course, knew better. But what was he selling?

Xavier Xander"Quoth the Ravin' 'Evermore': Why Rave Culture is Here to Stay"
by Xavier Xander

We admit, the light show and the trance was too-fly-to-die-for, but the Poe tie-in was inestimable. It's not so much that "The Cask of Amontillado" is a psychologically revealing exploration of vengeance and pride as it is a bad X trip. It's not that "The Masque of the Red Death" is a great piece of gothic horror, but that it's a metaphor for a rave busted by the police. Poe wasn't really a gothic writer; he was just a Goth. Why hadn't we seen it before?

William H. Wannabe"Poe Did It, Coleridge Did It, Fitzgerald Too. Why Can't I Do It? Or You'll Never Be a Writer Without a Raging Drug Habit"
by William H. Wannabe

Picking up on Xander's theme, Wannabe explicates the intricate web of artist and "inspiration" through illustration and participation. Sadly, the ravers who came to see the other paper kept bogarting all the "illustration." Bummer.

Rizzo P. Wizacker"In Xanadu Did Newton-John a Stately Pleasure-Drone Decree"
by Rizzo P. Wizacker

Explores the relationship between the decadence of the disco era and the subsequent effect on contemporary culture. Historicity met electricity in the pumped-up presentation of sight, sound and Studio 54-inspired naughtiness. The quadraphonics were a special touch. We're still worried how we're going to get the stains out of our lounge suits.

Hank Hankaria"Monkey-Art Vs. Elephant Art: A Postmodern Aesthetic Dilemma"
by Hank Hankaria

The death of art ca. Claes Oldenberg has made for some interesting aesthetic debates. Instead of arguments about the figurative vs. the non-figurative, the expulsion of the artist as individual creator from the artistic process has put us in the place where we must debate the relative merits of whether chimp art is more expressive than elephant art. The two camps are, surprisingly, widely divided, with elephant-backers complaining of "speciesist-prima-centrism" on the part of the pro-simian faction amid counter-accusations of "trunk-triumphalism." The moderated panel nearly came to blows while the featured artists munched grass and threw feces. Watch for Hankaria's upcoming paper on Post-Colonial Indian elephant art vs. Post-Colonial art by elephants of color.

E. Jaxon Polltax"The Signifier Monkey: The Semiotics of Sambo vs. Rambo or Man, We Got Shafted"
by E. Jaxon Polltax

We'll let the author speak for himself from his commentaries on the text: "All we've got is Blade and Shaft. They've got Rambo, van Damme, the Terminator, even that lame-ass Die Hard guy. And who ever thought Martin Lawrence and Chris Rock were action heroes? Man, I demand a recount." 'Nuff said.

Xaveria Holly-Ander"Hung Goodman Brown: Revisioning Puritanism as S&M: The Mayflower meets the Mayflower Madam"
by Xaveria Holly-Ander

Echoing the Dickens piece above, Holly-Ander revisions Puritan garb, repression and speech patterns as po-mo fetishism. "Everything from the stocks to the titillation of being tied to a stake and 'burned' by candle wax is explored by the followers of this new fetish, who all seem to have one thing in common: they get a thrill from being sinful. It's as inevitable as our own past," writes the author. Afterward, we couldn't sit for a week.

Lanier Thomas Ford"The Ass Menagerie: Mental Illness and Family Dysfunction as Hip-Hip Meta-Theme"
by Lanier Thomas Ford

Eminem wails about his "moms," and the rest bitch about their "bitches and hos," and Ford taps into the deep crotch beneath the waistband of Gangsta' and hip-hop rage: a bad home life, or, as Ford puts it, a bad "ho'me(y) life," translating into the need to degrade and use women. There's nothing much surprising about that, but his contention that family dysfunction propels inner-city youth backward into a primal proto-mind is groundbreaking. The emphasis on "bootie" is a direct Oedipal reaction combined with a primate's-eye-view of the female posterior. Right on or bass-ackwards? Chilling at any rate.

Conclusion

No matter how nice he is, or how much he says he does for you, don't trust whitey.

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